My first encounter with Sebastian Skinner was on the bus down to the Ranch last Saturday. Now please pardon me, particularly you Sebastian if you are reading which I hope you are, as I’m going to reveal a side of me that may not be quite so attractive.
When I see men who look like Sebastian I often objectify them with preconceived notions. Well, first let me show him to you so you know what I mean.
But wait, put that head on a body that Adonis would aspire to and there you have it.
His head is almost shaved now and his beard more closely cropped but you get the idea. Tall, lean, six pack abs, smooth skin, cool tattoos and…well, all that.
Someone on the bus just assumed, understandably, that he was a fitness instructor at the Ranch and asked him what he taught down there.
He responded “I offer the Watsu and Waterdance” and launched in to what was probably the first of 606 explanations of what he practices, all delivered with the same even and passionate tone. He didn’t seem to tire of describing it to people.
Now I was a little surprised that he did Watsu there. I was expecting to hear something like “body sculpt” or “extreme cycling” or something uber fitnessy like that.
Watsu is a healing art and one I’ve been curious about for years. I just didn’t realize men who looked like that were drawn to something that subtle, that feminine for lack of a better word.
Ok so now that my preconceived impressions and objectifications are disrobed for everyone to see, let me explain to you how Sebastian Skinner proved me wrong and became a serious healer in my life.
The pool where they practice the Watsu is near one of the spas at the Ranch. It’s also across from the library and near the salon. So I walked past it at least once a day.
As I strolled past on my way to get my pedicure or take a jacuzzi and nude sunbathe in the spa or check out my library book, I noticed Sebastian in the pool offering a session.
I tried not to gawk and invade their privacy but what I saw kept catching my eye. That of a healer completely in tune with his patient.
I saw something that I really didn’t expect in this young handsome supremely fit and gorgeous man. He looked to me in a deep state of meditation and connection with his partner, oblivious to the outside world. Total focus.
It impressed me.
So much so that I decided to take the plunge and walk right in to that spa and make an appointment.
(lifted this from your Facebook page Sebastian, hope it’s ok)
The Ranch was pretty hot and sunny the beginning of last week. And I, being me, decided it would be kind of cool to test Mother Nature and nude sunbathe then take two water exercise classes back to back on my first day there, without sunscreen. Ouch! (don’t judge, I already know how over enthusiastic it was 😉 ).
So I picked a time in the evening when it wouldn’t be as intense with the sun and my sunburn.
7pm Thursday night sounded perfect. Gave me some time to ease in to the idea too.
Dinner at the Ranch is served between 6-7:30. This is a highlight of the day where we gather to share stories and experiences of our eventful days over white table cloths and four courses of healthy, gourmet, life enhancing meals. Some of my best memories and friendships made are over those dinners.
I love the fact that we are all showing up generally with no makeup, sometimes with our yoga clothes still on and hair piled up in a pony tail from the last class and no pretention.
That Thursday, Sebastian ended up in line with my friend Tracy and I and asked if he could join our table for dinner.
“Of course” we both chimed. You see by now, Sebastian had come up in many dinner table conversations already over the week. He was a bit of a Boy Wonder based on the sharings people were serving up about their amazing Watsu/Waterdance experiences. Words I heard describing him were “sweet” and “soulful” and “humble” and “amazing”. Not just the Watsu itself, but Sebastian himself.
I was so glad I’d made an appointment and kind of scared shitless at the same time. I know myself well enough to know that’s a good sign something’s about to shift.
Sebastian sat next to me at the white table clothed dinner table and in his usual quiet confident sort of Buddhist-like demeanor asked me how I was doing, that he was looking forward to our session in an hour and asked what I thought looked good on the menu.
Each evening there are four courses but two entrees to choose from. You can also choose the “combo” if you want a sampling of each. Which is great for the indecisive , like me. 😉 Sebastian quietly asked “what are you going to get? I think the combo looks good”–a Mexican tamale plate and an eggplant parmesan. I agreed.
(example of a dinner menu)
We enjoyed our first courses and told our waiter we were on the “fast track” dinner plan as we had to get to our appointment by 7pm.
Imagine my surprise when right after my salad plate was lifted, my “combo” plate was delivered in front of me. We normally order our entrees at that stage of the meal but mine appeared like a rabbit out of a hat!
“I ordered for you” Sebastian quietly said to me.
Little did he know, our session started right at that moment.
I’ve been caretaking my brother for so long and been out of the dating scene for over a year now that having a man take charge like that was something so foreign to me it literally took my breath away. Even as I write this I feel my breath becoming a little more shallow, just remembering that feeling. A gesture so simple yet so profound.
Careful what you ask for, they say.
We finished our meal just a little before 7 and Sebastian left first to set up the pool area I assume. I joined him there just in time for my session.
He first began by quietly explaining to me how the process goes down – the mechanics of it. He asked if I wanted to try the underwater portion of it called Waterdance. Of course, I replied. Just like dinner, I tend to want to try everything on the menu.
He explained that he would tap my third eye when it was time and then would lightly pinch my nose to signal he was about to apply the nose plugs. Then each time he was to submerge me, he’d tap me three times somewhere on my body, I was to take a deep inhalation, hold my breath then blow out half the air as he took me under in order to not float back up. He assured me he’d take me under in increments and that I could come up anytime I felt afraid or anything.
That’s when the panic set in. I’m very used to covering up how scared I am which of course I did this time but I keep it real here and the second he started cradling me in his arms like a baby gently swishing me from side to side I became consumed with thoughts of “I gotta get out of here!”. Lightning fast through my mind I’d convinced myself I could just pay him and leave the pool. This was too intense, too vulnerable, too intimate, too something.
Thankfully I know this feeling well and know to just breathe and ride it out, which I did.
Then the tremoring started bubbling up. It rose first in to my jaw, an uncontrollable wave of energy moving up and taking possession of my face. I just let my jaw shake and shake and then rising up behind the earthquake like a tsunami were the sobs. Tears in my eyes now as I write this. Long held tears for God knows what falling in to that 96 degree saline pool, the temperature of amniotic fluid he’d said.
Growing up without a mother, having lost mine at age 5 after her being sick and absent at least a year before that has crafted me in to a woman who knows how to nurture but not allow it in easily. That has shown up in my life over and over in countless ways. Yet the craving is deep.
The Ranch itself mothers me. But this took it to a whole new level.
This gorgeous, hunky, young beautiful man is one of the most maternal people I’ve ever met, at least toward me. Who would have guessed?
So much for my preconceived notions on the bus. I love it when I get proven wrong sometimes.
Once I’d released that flood of tears back to the womb, I finally was able to let go in to this Shaman’s arms. He’d gently placed his hand softly over my heart as I was crying and would at times stroke my face. I was able to fully let go in to that embrace, that intimacy and I began to heal.
Sebastian had mentioned at the table that he’d worked with a woman who he just knew wasn’t ready for the submersion portion as she just needed more time above the water’s surface to let go. As the timelessness of the session unfolded I wondered if that would be me. If it was that obvious that I’d had trouble letting go so he’d keep me at the surface. Which would be ok as at that point I really did trust him.
So I was delighted when I felt that tap to my forehead and the nose plugs applied. I knew we were going deeper now, together.
It was easy and hard until it was nothing but easy as he dropped me down over and over again, gaining more confidence with each deep dive. Finally toward the last several submersions I was feeling like I didn’t even need to know how to breathe. I was so completely safe and comfortable under the water being pulled and swirled and compressed and expanded and rebirthed. My lungs didn’t gasp as I surfaced but just emitted a tiny puff of stored air. It was as gentle as a dolfin, as sensual as a mermaid, as safe as baby in her mother’s arms for the first time. (more tears now).
(found this pic online but this is exactly what it looks like)
The words kept coming to me the entire last half of the session “you are being transformed right now…your life is changing”.
For me the experience was as much about the practice as the practitioner. I’d gone on a journey with Sebastian all week, learning to trust him, unbeknownst to either of us. I feel like God selected him to be there to help me heal in his arms. I do think it was that deep.
He gave me the post Watsu instructions and I followed them. I felt so incredibly and unexpectedly energized! I went back to my room and something kind of unusual happened. I walked in to the bathroom and the overhead light started dramatically flickering and buzzing. I wondered if the bulb was getting ready to burn out and turned it off.
I read for awhile then went to bed. Wide awake again at 4am I put on the bedside lamp to read and it started doing the exact same flickering thing. It was then that I realized my energy field was changing.
I walked away from the bed and the bulb went steady. I came back to it and it started flickering.
Now I knew we were in new territory and my entire field was undergoing an expansion and transformation.
I just know it was from the Watsu.
This trip was my fourth time there and I can easily say this was the peak experience of all the peak experiences I’ve had at Rancho La Puerta.
When I got out of bed the next morning, I put on this song, one of my all time favorites. I probably listened to it at least 30 times during my week down there. I realized this is the soundtrack to my Watsu session. I also realized that if I had my choice of how to be ushered out of this life, out of this body at the end of this lifetime, I’d like it to be in a Watsu session with this music playing in the background. Take a listen and prepare to get dreamy.
There is so much to add but I will just include that during my trip down there, representing a distinct shift in my asking for what I need and my father listening and responding, he offered to send me back again this year “as soon as possible”. He heard how desperate things have been with John and how depleted I’d gotten and he wants to help me, hold me up, support me so I don’t drown.
So I decided I’ll do Watsu again at the Ranch for my birthday in November.
I want to be reborn again in my 54th year. As I outlived all the females in my family the year I turned 37, every passage is stepping in to new territory, sometimes terrifying, sometimes exhilarating, always daunting.
I will be ushered in to my next chapter this year in 96 degree saline water, cradled, supported, loved by a beautiful Shaman.
I hope it’s Sebastian’s week again that week but I will trust God to send me exactly who I need.
In the meantime, I’m watching lights and lamps and signs of life all around me as I keep swimming through my year, through my life.
My Shaman Sebastian and me at the Friday night party
Take a look at a video explaining Watsu and Waterdance by Sebastian’s teacher and Warm Water Alchemy Founder Dave Towe
Thank you Sebastian Skinner for taking me deep and helping me transform.